I’ve been a huge fan of Alpine products and have been for years. I love my 4 channel amps and I’ve been enjoying fantastic sound for many years now.
Having the flexibility that a 4 channel amp gives is great when it comes time to upgrade your system later.
When it comes down to it, you don’t need a super-expensive amplifier to enjoy great sound quality. However, you do need to pick one that’s a well-rounded great choice.
I’ll tell you all you might want to know about the MRV-F300 before buying. Read on to learn more.
Alpine MRV-F300 review – First impressions
It’s a great looking amp, very compact, and housed in a well-designed dark brushed metal chassis. It feels solid in the hand, but it’s still relatively lightweight compared to conventional older amps of the same power rating.
I have owned other amps in the past with the same power rating and they easily weighed 3 times as much as the MRV-F300 does! It measures just under 5 lbs (around 10 kgs).
Build quality is great, and I notice there aren’t huge gaps or misaligned parts like on cheaper amps of the same Class D technology. I’ve tested other type D amps before, and easily noticed they weren’t put together well or felt a bit flimsy and just didn’t feel solid. That’s not the case here.
The amp looks great and connectors are high-quality. and you can make a very tight and more reliable connection unlike lesser amps with standard screw terminals. Fit and finish is excellent, with no big gaps or sloppy assembly. The blue light on top glows when it is turned on. My opinion so far? NICE!
Connectors are very high quality and use hex-keyed screws to securely hold wiring connections. Connectors are clearly labeled, and take the guesswork out of bridging the amp if you choose to do so for more power.
The power connectors are circular inside and 8 gauge power wire will fit and is recommended for installation.
I really like what Alpine has done with the protective end caps it comes with – unlike amps in the past, they’re easy to get on and off.
They snap on and off! If you choose to mount it under a seat in your car or truck they’re great for protecting the wiring from shorts if you happen to have tools or coins lying around in your interior like I do at times.
Also, it just plain looks nice with them on!
By the way – upon opening the box you’ll find an Alpine Verification Certificate detailing the operation and performance of the amp you bought! Very nice.
MRV-F300 amplifier design and performance details
A huge advantage – compact size
The MRV-F300 has a cool glowing light on the top when powered to indicate it’s on. I love the compact size and honestly I’m impressed with what they’ve fit into such a small package (Shown with end caps installed)
There are a multitude of Class D car amps on the market today, and most are pretty compact. The problem is that a well-designed car amp with decent power and GOOD quality sound requires a bigger circuit board and more parts – and that means a bigger size.
Alpine, for several decades, has been several steps ahead of the lesser brands. They use surface-mount component technology (SMT) to reduce the size required in order to make a smaller and better-sounding amplifier.
Measuring only 7 7/8″ W x 6.5″ D x 2 3/16″ H (200 x 165 x 55 mm) it’s crazy small and can fit in creative places that older amps could never even come close to fitting in!
That’s a huge advantage! You could even fit one amp under each seat in some cases for a great way to have a multi-amp system that thieves won’t see.
Class D amp technology
Class D amplifiers are one of the most recent developments in the audio world. Unlike conventional Class A/B designs (which most car audio amps still use to this day) that are around 50% efficient, a Class D amplifier uses ultra-fast switching technology to bring efficiency to near 90%!
This means since you are no longer wasting huge amounts of power (which turn into heat, by the way) the amp can be reduced greatly in size and doesn’t need a huge power supply internally.
However, as I mentioned at the beginning of my review, there’s something you need to know: Class D amps have higher “noise floors”, another name for the baseline noise or “hiss” level you hear when the gain is turned up.
Also these types of amplifiers must be well-designed to ensure the technology use doesn’t modify your music signal (distortion) when amplified.
That’s what they’ve done, as Alpine uses their own engineering rather than repackage and relabel a lower-end audio amp like some competitors do.
The end result is the ability to provide up to:
- 50W RMS per channel into a 4 ohm speaker x 4
- 75W RMS per channel into a 2 ohm speaker x 4
- 150 watts RMS x 2 bridged output at 4 ohms (4-ohm stable in bridged mode)
Performance and sound quality
Sound quality is just great as you’d expect from Alpine: music is full and clear, highs are bright and crisp, and bass is solid and easily drives speakers without giving out. It’s an excellent sounding amplifier and a winner! In the past I had my doubts about Class D car amps (after having a few bad experiences) but the MRV-F300 has changed my mind. It’s that good.
Bass hits hard and has great impact, just as you’ve come to enjoy from conventionally larger amplifiers.
If you’re planning to drive subwoofers with moderate power and volume (up to 150W each) you won’t be disappointed. If you need slamming bass, however, I’d consider the sibling MRV-M500, a mono amp with much more power available in the same size.
I have excellent hearing and based on my audio design & listening experience, I can definitely recommend this little powerhouse.
The MRV-F300 features full range, low pass, or high pass crossover settings including 50-400Hz adjustable cutoff. A bass EQ (boost) feature is built-in too.
The crossover functions are easy to use. Controls and switches have a good, solid “feel” to them. One thing I’ve always noticed about Alpine Electronics is their products use good components that don’t feel sloppy when making adjustment, and don’t change due to vibration after I’ve adjusted them.
This amp is no different.
Note: the bass EQ boost is works only for the 3/4 channel pair when turned on. I’ve taken off points in my review score at the bottom as this feature in my opinion should be on 1/2 also.
One thing you need to know is that because it’s a Class D amp, by nature the noise level can be heard more when the gain is turned up higher. I definitely recommend adjusting the gain to a lower level that will still give adequate volume when the stereo is turned up high.
Alpine has done a great job in designing the amp, but it’s one of the trade-offs of this type of amp. Still though, it sounds wonderful and noise levels are basically imperceptible in most cases.
Additional features and installation
The great news is that it’s still easy to install – just like any other car amp as screw mounting is used to mount on tabs on each end of the amp (one pair of tabs on the control end and one pair on the power & speaker connection side.
It also works with speaker level inputs so it’s great for factory stereos too!
The amp fits great under seats and can still leave room for speaker crossovers! Here’s an example of a custom install using the amp when space is limited.
Actually if needed, because of its light weight, in more difficult installations you could even use industrial strength Velcro or some type of reliable double-sided tape to mount it if necessary. The amp won’t heat up and cause the adhesive to lose strength, unlike amps in the past.
As I mentioned earlier it looks more professional to use it with the end caps snapped on, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
You’ll get the following inside the box:
- 7.5″ Speaker-level input harness
- 2 Snap on terminal covers
- Four 3/4″ Self-tapping hex-head screws
- Owner’s manual (English/ French/ Spanish)
- Alpine Verification Certificate
…so you’ll need to remember to pick up whatever else you need before you start your installation, along with an amp wiring kit. I recommend picking up a good quality but great-priced 8 gauge wire kit like this one I found at Amazon.
It’s a lot less hassle to be prepared, and you sure don’t want to end up paying too much or having to run out for supplies while in the middle of your install work!
The gritty details – specifications
For your convenience I’m including the specifications directly from the owner’s manual. Refer to the right hand column for the MRV-F300. Left-hand column values are for its sibling the mono MRV-M500. (click to enlarge)
You may have noticed that the signal-to-ratio ratio specified is lower than typical amplifiers. As I mentioned earlier, that’s an inherent design trait of Class D amps, but in practice with good speakers and the amp being sent a good signal level, it’s not really an issue.
I’m still pleased with the sound quality and wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t feel you would too.
Also note that the EQ boos is +12dB, in case you weren’t aware. That’s a very noticeable amount of bass increase.
I love this amp. For the money (it sells for a very reasonable price, usually somewhere close to $150 dollars or so) it’s a great buy.
As both an installer and a music lover I’d recommend it to nearly everyone except those who want extremely high signal-to-noise specs.
The MRV-F300 doesn’t disappoint and it’s a great performer and definitely a great value.
Is it small? It sure is! However, thanks to the superior Alpine design quality both music reproduction and power output are impressive for such a compact size. It's a great performer musically and I love it. While many similarly priced class D amps by nature have a higher noise level than conventional Class A/B amps, Alpine has done a great job in minimizing noise. Music is crisp, loud, and most of all enjoyable. This is an excellent amplifier for both aftermarket or factory stereos - with its small size it can fit safely away under seats or in storage areas. Factory systems gain the additional benefit of an auto-on sensing feature when the speaker level inputs are used. Not only that, but the included snap-on end caps round off a great-looking appearance nicely...and it's priced close to the same as lower-quality competition models. Don't pass this one up!
- Excellent sound for a Class D amp
- High efficiency - runs cool
- 8 gauge wire terminals
- Flexible crossovers built in
- Bass boost switch
- Small size fits in many small areas
- Great looking finish & nice power-on light
- End caps provided for clean install
- Bridgeable for 150W RMS each channel pair
- Speaker level inputs
- Bass EQ boost only on channels 3/4
- Normal Class D lower signal-to-noise ratio (improves as power output goes up)
- Closed power terminals mean its difficult to fit 4 gauge wire
- Mounting tabs face inward rather than outward - no option to change them
- No remote knob available unlike the sibling MRV-M500